Tag: Lighthouse Project

Charles Wang

Charles Wang: If arena referendum doesn’t pass he’s not trying to develop area anymore


For whatever you think about Islanders owner Charles Wang, there’s one thing you cannot question about his leadership of the team. Wang’s dedication to trying to do things to improve the team in the face of a host of problems has been tireless. While it’s easy to pick on the monstrous contracts he’s given out in the past to Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro and how the team has done under his watch since buying the Islanders back in 2000, he’s at least had his heart in the right place.

Wang has tried over the years to get a new arena project going on Long Island to build a new facility for the Islanders. Nassau Coliseum is currently the second oldest arena in the league (just behind Madison Square Garden that’s being renovated) and it’s widely described as being the worst current venue in the NHL. Wang tried to fix things by himself with his Lighthouse Project but the Town of Hempstead repeatedly shot down his plans for that.

Now, with a major vote coming up on Long Island for taxpayers to decide whether or not they want their tax money to pay for a new arena and minor league baseball stadium, Wang has made it known that if the referendum doesn’t get passed and the plans are not approved, he’s no longer going to try and develop the Nassau Coliseum area opening things up to a questionable future for the Islanders on Long Island when the lease at the coliseum runs out in 2015.

New York Newsday’s Ted Phillips has the story from the excitable Islanders owner.

Wang said the lease he negotiated with Mangano is “plan A” and there is no plan B.

“We’re asking people to approve the deal we have,” he said. “You can always tweak this, do this, so forth . . . It’s like anything else. You have a whole mix of things where you negotiate a business deal. Some of which you may love and some of which you may not like as much, but you come up and you do the deal then.”

Wang sees himself as better positioned because the clock is ticking on the current lease.

“The biggest asset a team has . . . is an expiring lease,” he said.

Wang wouldn’t say whether he was in talks about relocating if the referendum fails.

It’s a desperate time for the Islanders fans. Getting a new arena is something most every team in the NHL has seen over the last ten years. That doesn’t make it their right to get a new one, but if there’s a team that needs it, it’s the Islanders. Nassau Coliseum is described as “the mausoleum” by many for its dreary lighting and seemingly antiquated set up.

Making things more desperate for the Isles and their fans is the talk of relocation. With sites like Quebec City and Seattle being talked a lot about potential places to move and Kansas City having an arena ready and waiting to be received by any major sports team, the possibilities are there. Of course, moving a team with the kind of history the Isles have would be virtually criminal and it’s something Wang is trying desperately to avoid doing down the road.

That said, hockey’s a business and if Wang cannot get any of his plans to try and improve things for his team he’s got every right to try and find a way to make things better by himself. He’s done that with his Lighthouse Project plans that were foiled and, down the road, he could do that with a possible relocation bid. That would be the ultimate desperation move and that’s what makes the Islanders August 1 vote all the more important to the future of the team in New York.

Islanders are expected to make an announcment regarding Nassau Coliseum tomorrow


The New York Islanders have been trying to come up with plans to improve the aging Nassau Coliseum for years now. If rumors are true, there might be some reason for optimism.

The Islanders will hold a press conference on Wednesday to announce their “major Economic Development and Job Creation Plan to build a world-class sports-entertainment destination center,” according to a release from the team.

It’s a bit unclear if the renovations (which might cost around $400 million overall, according to some rumors) will involve a casino or not. Lighthouse Hockey relays a Newsday report that the project might happen without funding from a casino, yet the Islanders’ release reveals that Edward Mangano will “announce plans to pursue the construction of an Indian gaming casino.”

With that slight confusion in mind, we’ll take a wait-and-see approach. Even if the details are cloudy, it does seem like there’s some reason for positivity in Long Island. There have been some dark periods for this franchise – and they’re not out of the woods yet – but maybe they’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Expect more on this tomorrow, even if we probably won’t reach a concrete conclusion for quite some time.

NY Islanders are expected to cut season ticket prices

Rick DiPietro, John Tavares

It’s not often that the concepts of supply and demand are laid out as clearly as the differing directions in ticket prices between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders.

While the Flyers are using the NHL’s rising salary cap as a reason (or excuse?) to raise season ticket prices, Chris Botta reports that the Islanders are likely to acknowledge the last few defeat-heavy seasons by lowering theirs.

(The team provides a guide to next season’s ticket prices as well as the different perks and benefits season ticket holders can expect for the 2011-12 season.)

Islanders tickets holders will have a good idea of the price drops and changes from this season to next, but Botta translates them in this post.

  • The recent 20% reduction of over-the counter prices, instituted after the Islanders’ early-season swoon took them essentially out of the playoff race by early December, is likely to remain in place for the 2011-12 season.
  • Season ticket pricing plans will be significantly discounted. Contrary to a theory posted here on Saturday night, it does not appear the franchise will ask buyers to put down money early this spring in order to get the best prices. Good.
  • After seeing their benefits reduced over the last few seasons, Islanders full season subscribers can expect a menu of highly creative and enticing goodies to choose from if they renew or sign up.
  • Additional fan-friendly ticket plans and promotions are also in the works.

The Islanders have been dealing with a mostly down last few years, especially this season – including the way they interacted with Botta himself. The organization seems like it’s flailing in the wind a bit being that it seems like the Lighthouse Project in shambles, but earning back the hearts of its remaining fans would certainly be helpful.

While the team remains in the NHL’s cellar, there have been signs of life in Long Island here and there. Perhaps the Islanders can make it tougher for fans from Quebec to storm their barn next season by courting potential new (or returning) fans a little closer to home.

It’s not like they have much of a choice, anyway.

Should the NHL take control of the wayward Islanders?

New York Islanders Rookie Camp
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There are plenty of bleak situations in the NHL right now. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the makeup of a team in rebuild mode, if it weren’t for those huge draft picks they traded away and their ill-spent investments in big name letdowns. The Florida Panthers are still mediocre and mostly ignored, but seem like they’ve found direction under new GM Dale Tallon. Even the Edmonton Oilers boast a treasure trove of prospects.

Yet if there is one team mired in almost universal negativity, it might just be the New York Islanders. Yes, they have some bright spots to look on, such as 2009 No.1 pick John Tavares and a few other solid young players.

But the team is mired in wasted space (like Rick DiPietro’s contract, which continues the legacy of thrown away cash started by Alexei Yashin’s buyout) playing in a wasted arena in Long Island. The prospects of their desperate attempts to make the Lighthouse Project a reality seem dim at best now, which might be the most demoralizing bit of news.

(Really, they even lost their right to be scrappy underdogs as an organization with the way they blacklisted beat writer Chris Botta because of some personal vendetta between the reporter and GM Garth Snow.)

Things are so bad that Larry Brooks of the New York Post thinks that Gary Bettman and the NHL need to do something drastic by taking over the Islanders.

There is Broadway, there is off Broadway, there is off-off Broadway and then there is Long Island, where the owner, once perceived as a savior (so originally was Spano, so originally were the Gang of Four) has all but disappeared from public view.

It is impossible to determine what the endgame here is for Wang. It can’t be to simply run out the clock over the next four years while further gutting the franchise’s infrastructure. If that truly is the objective, if the owner simply intends to devalue the franchise to the extent no one else would even consider buying it to keep in this area, then it is time for the commissioner to step in, exert his authority and save the Islanders from the crypt-keeper.

Bettman always talks about the league’s commitment to its current markets except when he talks about the Islanders, and then he talks about the commitment to Wang. It’s troubling there is no sense of NHL commitment to Long Island, no sense of NHL commitment to the fan base Bettman himself was once a part of back in the glory days that have passed the franchise by.

The league props up Phoenix, it’ll prop up Dallas and the league will stand behind franchises in Sunrise, Fla.; Tampa and Atlanta, but in this case the league seems to stand behind Wang and not the Islanders. Memo to Bettman: One should not be confused with the other.

It’s hard to argue with the fact that the Islanders are in a state of dismay right now, especially considering the ugly handling of the Botta situation. What would you do to save the Islanders?